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Whooper the Invincible

Whooper continued her run of bullets in IRC Three - Photo RORC/Paul Wyeth

While conditions on day one built to a brutal 30 knots, today it was equally challenging at the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s IRC National championship. There was marginally less wind, but stronger gusts coming through in the squalls. Once again two windward-leewards were held followed by a longer round the cans race.
Today it was the turn of Giovanni Belgrano’s classic 1939 Laurent Giles sloop, Whooper in IRC Three to score straight bullets. On top of her two from yesterday, she now holds a nine point lead that will be tough to better.

“I guess it is her weather - maybe if it is less windy tomorrow, we’ll get a break,” observed Ian Braham, who’s MG 346 MS Amlin Enigma, was second best scorer today in IRC Three with a 2-2-4, despite sailing one man down on a boat that Braham admitted is optimised for lighter conditions. “It was quite hard work, but the courses were great again. We made some good starts and it is really enjoyable.”

2017 ircn day2 lady mariposa pwKer 46 Lady Mariposa has overtaken Keronimo and now leads IRC One - photo RORC/Paul Wyeth

In IRC One the largest fastest boat in the fleet has prevailed. The Ker 46 Lady Mariposa scored two bullets yesterday, but was forced out of the final race with broken battens. Today they scored a 2-1-2 and, with a discard kicking in, they have now taken the lead in their class. Skipper Dan Hardy admitted that in the second race they had gone off the boil, which allowed through their smaller sister, Andy Williams’ Ker 40 Keronimo.

“We felt pressure from them today - their game has come up and they won’t let us get away with it, especially if we make any mistakes.”

As the fastest rated boat at the IRC Nationals, Lady Mariposa quickly ends up sailing her own race. As Hardy puts it “We have to make sure that we really get a clean start, get going and try not to look behind. We have to keep the hammer down, try to sail as simple and as fast as we can and, when we hit traffic, try to deal with that as best we can.” They were frequently catching and passing the FAST 40+ class today.

2017 ircn day2 girls on film pwGirls on Film won the Tiny Mitchell Trophy as top scoring boat today in FAST40+ - photo RORC/Paul Wyeth

Johnny Vincent’s Ker 40+ Pace has edged three points clear in the FAST 40+ class, although Peter Morton’s new Carkeek Mk3, Girls on Film has scored more bullets, including two more today, albeit these sandwiching a sixth. RORC regular, Ireland’s Niall Dowling, stood in for Vincent today in what was his FAST 40+ baptism.

“It was fantastic. They are great boats, fairly full on – we were doing 15-18 knots downwind. It is like sailing a dinghy. The key thing was keeping her going, to take the loads off to a minimum, especially off the wind. The guys did a great job to get me around.”

A few of the FAST 40+s has contretemps with a starboard tack IRC Three boat whose intentions seemed unclear. A casualty of this was Pace whose kite went for a dramatic trawl. “We had to stop the boat and go backwards to get it out of the water” recalled Dowling.

On the final beat to the finish of race three it was interesting to see Keronimo in IRC One holding her own against the FAST 40+s. As her tactician and sailmaker Kevin Sproul observed: “They are quicker downwind, because they are a ton lighter. VMG upwind, we were only a tiny bit slower.”

2017 ircn day2 yes pwAdam Gosling's Yes! was the winner today in IRC 2 - photo RORC/Paul Wyeth

The string of bullets came to an end for Ed Fishwick’s Sun Fast 3600 Redshift Reloaded in IRC Two where today defending IRC National Champion, Adam Gosling and his JPK 1080+ Yes! were top scorers, posting a 1-1-2, leaving them just one point off the lead.

“He is a good sailor and they are sailing that boat really well” observed Gosling of his opponent. “This is the first time we’ve sailed the boat this year, so we’re getting rid of all the cobwebs and trying to remember how to sail her again.”

And it simply being day two rather than day one was what Gosling attributed their performance to today, despite Redshift Reloaded appearing to be a weapon in big conditions, whereas Yes! has been re-optimised for lighter conditions. Yes! came out on top in today’s first race despite being fouled at the leeward by a FAST40+ which was bound for the finish as they were trying to head upwind.

Today the Tiny Mitchell Trophy winners were decided for the boats which performed best on day two of the IRC Nationals (with no discards). These were: Girls on Film (FAST 40+), Lady Mariposa (IRC One), Yes! (IRC Two) and Whooper (IRC Three) and will be awarded at tomorrow’s prizegiving at the RORC Cowes clubhouse.
In the meantime two more races are scheduled tomorrow with the wind forecast to be closer to 15 knots than 20.

IRC Nationals fleet licking their wounds after tough opening day

Brisk Solent conditions for the cream of the British keelboat fleet at the  Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC Nationals © Paul Wyeth/

With the southwesterly piping up to 30 knots in the final race, the RORC IRC Nationals got off to a brisk start on the Solent today with two windward-leewards followed by a round the cans race.

Appropriately, given this is an annual championship for Royal Ocean Racing Club's rating rule, it is a mix of both the newest boats and the very oldest, that lead at the conclusion of day one.

Scoring three bullets on the first day of racing in the IRC National Championship, Ed Fishwick's Sun Fast 3600 was star performer © Paul Wyeth/

Star performer was Ed Fishwick's Redshift Reloaded which scored straight bullets in IRC Two and now lead reigning IRC National Champion, Adam Gosling on the JPK 1080+ Yes! by five points.

Fishwick typically races his new Sun Fast 3600 doublehanded offshore, but has a full crew for this event.

"Today it was mainly about getting good starts and staying upright," he explained. "We are one of the lower rated boats in IRC Two, so it was critical to get good starts and we got them, which meant we were in touch all the way up the first beat. It was very shifty and we had to do an unusual amount of tacking on shifts, but we got it right."

While their competitors were broaching around them, Redshift Reloaded's broad beam and twin rudders helped the crew keep her on her feet as the wind reached 28 knots, although even they suffered one wipe out.

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53 for the RORC IRC Nationals

IRC One fleet racing in the 2016 RORC IRC National Championships ©

Racing gets under way this Friday on the Solent for the cream of the British keelboat fleet at the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s IRC Nationals.

Since replacing the Channel Handicap System in 2000, IRC has been adopted around the globe to allow boats of differing sizes, ages, styles and speeds to compete equally. For example at the IRC Nationals, the rating rule will create a level playing field between the 53 boats entered ranging from the fastest, the Ker 46 Lady Mariposa, to the slowest, the two Quarter Tonners. In between it must cope with planing machines such as the eight FAST40s or Jamie Rankin’s Farr 280, Pandemonium, to the Quarter and Half Tonners originally designed to the IOR rule to Giovanni Belgrano’s 1939 Laurent Giles classic, Whooper.

2017 irc nats pata negra jmThe Dutch de Graaf family will compete in the RORC IRC Nationals in their chartered Marc Lombard-designed Pata Negra, seen here at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race © James Mitchell

Perhaps indicative of a new trend in size, three 46 footers are competing. In addition to Lady Mariposa is Colin Campbell’s Azuree 46 Eclectic, theoretically slowest of the trio. In between is the Marc Lombard-designed Pata Negra, chartered for the summer by the Dutch de Graaf family, who previously campaigned the Ker 40, Baraka GP.

"We sold the Ker in 2015 after the Fastnet," explains de Graaf son, Dirk. "This year my father really wanted to sail the Fastnet again, but his health isn’t the best, so we were looking for a performance boat with a little more comfort..." Pata Negra fitted the bill. To date they have only sailed the Myth of Malham, which went well until they were becalmed off Torquay.

While most of their crew sailed on Baraka GP, including father Harmen de Graaf and his three sons, this season the crew is more international and includes three women. Dirk de Graaf admits that this, their fourth IRC Nationals, will be an opportunity to familiarise themselves with their new steed. They make the trip from Holland, Dirk explains, because "in the UK the competition is very high, but we also like the British sportsmanship. Us Dutchies, we like shouting! The British way is more polite."

In IRC One they will also face their old foe, Andy Williams’ Ker 40 Keronimo, and Tor McLaren’s MAT 1180, Gallivanter. There will also be a trio of J/111s, Simon Bamford’s Kestrel, Paul Griffiths’ Jagerbomb and Cornel Riklin’s Jitterbug.

2017 irc nats erivale rtA close winner in the 2016 IRC Nationals, Mike Greville's Ker 39, Erivale will be competing in the 2017 championship starting on Friday in Cowes ©

A favourite for this year’s title is former RORC Commodore Mike Greville and his trusty Ker 39, Erivale, having come so close to winning last year. "The IRC Nationals attracts a very high quality fleet - it is really the best event for IRC in the Solent and shows the rule at its best, with very tight racing amongst similar-sized boats," explains Greville. "We had a great time at Easter racing the ‘slow 40s’ - Erivale, Cobra, Nifty and Zero - closely matched with three points of rating between us. I am expecting that again."

Among the eight FAST 40+s all eyes will be on the latest generation Carkeek design, Girls on Film of 2016 class winner Peter Morton. With a modified cockpit layout compared to her predecessor (now Bastiaan Voogd’s Hitchhiker), the IRC Nationals will be her first competitive outing having freshly arrived from her builder in Dubai.

2017 irc nats la reponse pwRORC Admiral, Andrew McIrvine's First 40, La Réponse © Paul Wyeth/

IRC Two will see a dust up between five First 40s, including La Réponse of RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine, who memorably scored three straight bullets on the final day of the IRC Nationals. On that occasion he was beaten to the class win by Adam Gosling’s JPK 1080+ Yes!, ultimately crowned joint IRC National Champion. Yes! will return to defend her title but some experienced competition from further afield will be making their way to the Solent to challenge for this open championship. Probably travelling furthest is Rod Stuart and Bill Ram’s Corby 37, Aurora coming down from Scotland, then Frans and Carla Rodenburg’s First 40 Elke from the Netherlands, and Gabriel Krier’s A35, Amaris 2 making the trip from Belgium.

2017 irc nats ms amlin pwOne of the lowest rated boats in the RORC IRC Nationals is Ian Braham's MG 346, MS Amlin Enigma © Paul Wyeth/

IRC Three includes regular campaigners such as Harry Heijst's S&S 41 classic, Winsome and Mike Bridges' Elan 37 Elaine. Alongside Quarter Tonners, Berry Aarts’ Wings and Tom Hill’s Belinda, Phil Plumtree's Half Tonner, Swuzzlebubble, and Whooper, one of the lowest rated is the Poole-based MG 346, MS Amlin Enigma of Ian Braham. "The racing is as good as it gets," Braham says as to why he’s competing. "If it is like the Easter Challenge, it will have good start lines, more windward-leewards and other course configurations – it is pure racing."

Braham says that having campaigned his 1992 vintage yacht for the last 13 years, he is used to being at the bottom of the rating band. "The normal thinking is that if you are slowest boat it is very difficult to find a lane, because even if you get a good start everyone will come over you up the first beat. But it depends on the distribution of boats."

Racing at the IRC Nationals takes place over 23-25th June with a first warning signal each day at 1055 BST.

The RORC Morgan Cup Race - Commodore Victorious in Guernsey

Nick & Suzi Jones's First 44.7 Lisa, skippered by RORC Commodore Michael Boyd - photo Paul Wyeth

Start: Friday 9th June 2017
RYS Cowes, to Guernsey, Channel Islands
Distance: Approx. 125 miles

Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Royal Thames Yacht Club

British First 44.7, Lisa, is the overall winner of the 2017 Morgan Cup Race. Owned by Nick & Suzy Jones and skippered by RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd. The Corinthian team scored a memorable victory after IRC time correction. 94 yachts completing the 125 mile course across the English Channel in blustery conditions. The crucial part of Lisa's victory came right at the end of the race.

"You need a good slice of luck to win a RORC offshore overall, as the conditions really need to suite your particular class" smiled RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd. "For Lisa, the tide changed near the end, which slowed the boats down behind us. We stayed inshore for a bit of rock hopping in the final few miles and it paid off. I would like to praise all the team racing Lisa, especially Suzi and Nick (Jones). We would like to dedicate the win to our absent navigator, who has a knee injury. Neil Morton, this win was for you."

Five time Figaro competitor, Jacques Pelletier, racing Milon 41, L'Ange De Milon, finished the Morgan Cup just over a minute behind Lisa, to claim second overall. About 15 minutes later, Gilles Fournier and Corinne Migraine, J/133 Pintia, crossed the line. After IRC time correction Pintia was third by just two seconds.

Windward Sailing's CM60, Venomous skippered by Derek Saunders, took Line Honours and victory in IRC Zero, in an elapsed time of just over 17 hours. L'Ange De Milon was the winner of IRC 1, ahead of Maxime de Mareuil's French XP-44 Orange Mecanix2. Mike Greville's British Ker 39, Erivale III was third in class. In IRC Two Lisa was the winner with Pintia second. Stephen Hopson's JPK 10.80 Blue Note was third in IRC 2, racing Two Handed.

A tremendous battle in IRC 3 was played out by two French JPK 1080s. Marc Alperovitch's Timeline took Line Honours for the class and after IRC time correction, won by just 26 seconds, ahead of Delamare & Mordret's Dream Pearls. Rob Craigie's Sunfast 3600 Bellino was third in class racing Two Handed. In IRC 4, Marc Noel racing French Norlin 37 China Girl, corrected out to win the class, ahead of two British teams; David Cooper racing Dehler 38 Longue Pierre and David Gough's Elan 333 Aventurera.

2017 morgan cup campagne de france photo cdfHalvard Mabire's Campagne de France continued their fine for this season, winning their class - photo Campagne de France

In the Class40 Division, Halvard Mabire's Campagne de France continued their fine for this season, winning their class by over one hour.

In IRC Two Handed, the top seven places all went to British boats, the top three separated by just 2 minutes 17 seconds after IRC time correction. It was Rob Craigie and Deb Fish sailing Rob’s Sunfast 3600, Bellino that was the winner, just under ten minutes ahead of Ed Fishwick's Sunfast 3600 Redshift Reloaded. Charles Emmett's superbly sailed Sigma 36, British Beagle was third. Charles was leading the Two Handed Class, IRC 4 and the race overall for long periods of the race, however the tide and a softening breeze robbed them of victory on the South Coast of Guernsey. Fair respect should to the smaller yachts in the race completing Two Handed. Blackburn & Dipple's Sunfast 3200, All or Nothing, along with Jonty Layfield's J/11s, Sleeper and Alan Thornewill's JOD 35, Ginger.

The 2017 RORC Season's Points Championship continues on Friday 30th June with a Celtic flavour: The 110 nautical mile Lyver Race, across the Irish Sea, starts from Holyhead, North Wales and finishes in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, Ireland.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Season's Points Championship consists of a testing series of races which attracts an international and varied fleet. For the serious offshore sailor, trying to win the Season's Points Championship is a real challenge. The Season's Points Championship this year includes the tactically and physically challenging Rolex Fastnet Race, one of the oldest and most prestigious offshore yacht races in the world.

Sevenstar's backing resumes for RORC's challenging quadrennial Round Britain & Ireland Race

3 days 3 hrs 32 mins 36 secs - a new outright world record was established by Sidney Gavignet's MOD 70, Musandam Oman Sail in the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Start: Cowes Sunday 12th August 2018

1 epic non-stop 1,805nm race
1 long test of endurance
1 major achievement 

Today, the Royal Ocean Racing Club announced the continued support of leading Dutch yacht transport and logistics company, Sevenstar Yacht Transport who remain title sponsor of their most tactically challenging offshore race, run every four years: The Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race 2018.

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Preview 2017 Morgan Cup Race

Mike Greville's Ker 39, Erivale III, holder of the Morgan Cup. Photo: RORC / Paul Wyeth

The 2017 RORC Season's Points Championship continues this weekend with another big entry for the Morgan Cup Race from the Solent to Guernsey, Channel Islands. 120 yachts have entered the race, the second largest entry so far in the 2017 RORC Season's Points Championship.

As with all RORC races starting from the Royal Squadron Line, the 125-mile race will require strategy at the start to negotiate the complex tidal streams and shifting winds of the Solent. After crossing the open waters of the English Channel, competitors must negotiate the Casquets, west of Alderney, followed by the rocky west coast of Guernsey and the Les Hanois Lighthouse on the exposed south western tip of the island. Approaching the finish competitors will experience some of the biggest and strongest tides in the Northern Hemisphere.

Last year's winner of the Morgan Cup was Ker 39 Erivale III, skippered by former Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club Mike Greville. Mike will be taking part in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race, for the 18th time, racing Erivale III in IRC One.

“We will be racing to Guernsey with much the same crew as last year, friends and family, a mixture of youth and experience.” commented Mike Greville. “We have had a good start to the season and that consistency comes from having a boat which Is proven and which we know well. This year's Morgan Cup looks like a windy affair, so quite different to last year and that will be good to experience for our build up to the Fastnet. I have many memorable moments of the Fastnet Race over the years but I think doing over 20kts on this Erivale in 2007, downwind in pitch dark crossing the Irish Sea is up there!”

Swiss sailor, Oliver Heer will skipper Sailing Logic's First 40, Lancelot II, for the Morgan Cup Race. Photo: RORC / Paul Wyeth

Swiss sailor, Oliver Heer will skipper Sailing Logic's First 40, Lancelot II, for the Morgan Cup Race. Photo: RORC / Paul Wyeth

In IRC Two, seven First 40s will be racing including five teams from Hamble based yacht racing school, Sailing Logic, that has won the RORC Sailing School Boat of the Year 11 times in the past 12 years. Swiss sailor, Oliver Heer will skipper Lancelot II for the Morgan Cup Race, which is currently third in IRC Two for the season.

“I am sure we will enjoy a great battle with the other First 40s that are on the starting line, and we hope to be the first of them to make it to St. Peter Port.” commented Oliver Heer. “Racing against similar boats definitely helps us to push that little bit more. The crew have all sailed before but they are pretty much novices in terms of offshore racing. Our main focus is to defend the RORC School Boat Trophy and we have four months to train the crew and this weekend, we will also focus on defending our podium position in IRC Two. For me this is a very rewarding job, as I see how quickly the crew progress and develop their skills, and myself and my co-skipper keep coaching them to improve. Safety is the number one priority, we push hard but you have to balance that with keeping a crew safe and well.”

The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Season's Points Championship consists of a testing series of races which attracts an international and varied fleet. For the serious offshore sailor, trying to win the Season's Points Championship is a real challenge. The Season's Points Championship this year includes the tactically and physically challenging Rolex Fastnet Race, one of the oldest and most prestigious offshore yacht races in the world.

Epic win for INO XXX

James Neville's FAST40+ Ino XXX, overall winner of the 2017 Myth of Malham Race. Photo:RORC/Paul Wyeth

Powerful thunderstorms, driving rain and wind speeds ranging from thirty knots to complete shutdowns provided epic conditions for the 256-mile RORC Myth of Malham Race. James Neville's FAST40+ Ino XXX won the gruelling 256-mile marathon, correcting out under IRC to take the overall win in the 140 boat fleet. Artur Skrzyszowski's Polish Reichel Pugh 48 Selma Racing was second and Windward Sailing's CM 60 Venomous, skippered by Derek Saunders was third.

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Royal Ocean Racing Club - since 1925

The RORC was founded in 1925 to encourage long distance yacht racing and the design, building and navigation of sailing vessels in which speed and seaworthiness are combined. Today the club encourages ocean, long distance and other forms of yacht racing and yachting activity.